On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump filed a defamation lawsuit in Okeechobee County, Florida against the Pulitzer Prize Board for their rewarding the Washington Post and the New York Times prizes in 2018 over their reporting on the debunked story that the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the presidential election.
According to Fox News, the lawsuit said, "A large swath of Americans had a tremendous misunderstanding of the truth at the time the Times’ and the Post’s propagation of the Russia Collusion Hoax dominated the media. Remarkably, they were rewarded for lying to the American public."
The Pulitzer Prize committee gave the New York Times and the Washington Post a shared journalism award in 2018 for their reporting on the false claim that the Trump campaign was connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. At the time Trump tweeted, "So funny that The New York Times & The Washington Post got a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage (100% NEGATIVE and FAKE!) of Collusion with Russia - And there was No Collusion! So, they were either duped or corrupt? In any event, their prizes should be taken away by the Committee!"
The Pulitzer website states that the award was given for the outlets' "deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team, and his eventual administration."
The lawsuit said that it was a "demonstrably false connection" that the news outlets proposed as truth.
Much of the reporting was based on the discredited Steele dossier, which was eventually proved to be a fabrication made by Democrat operatives, including Michael Sussmann, and then given to attorneys being paid by Clinton's campaign.
According to the complaint, "While elements at both the Times and the Post were almost certainly complicit in the Russia Collusion Hoax, is ultimately immaterial whether the authors of the Awarded Articles understood at the time they were propagating political disinformation manufactured by paid sources in an attempt mislead the public and tarnish President Trump’s reputation and political prospects."
The Federal Election Commission fined both Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee for lying about the dossier's funding.
The lawsuit also noted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate the matter, found no connection between Trump and Russia.
"What matters instead is the Defendants’ conduct, particularly when many of the key assertions and premises of the Russia Collusion Hoax that permeated the Awarded Articles had been revealed by the Mueller Report and congressional investigations as false after the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting had been awarded," the lawsuit read.
In 2021, Trump wrote a letter that read, "I call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to immediately rescind the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting awarded to the staffs of The New York Times and The Washington Post, which was based on false reporting of a non-existent link between the Kremlin and the Trump Campaign. As has been widely publicized, the coverage was no more than a politically motivated farce which attempted to spin a false narrative that my campaign supposedly colluded with Russia despite a complete lack of evidence underpinning this allegation."
The Pulitzer Prize Board defended the reward as recently as this year and wrote, "The Pulitzer Prize Board has an established, formal process by which complaints against winning entries are carefully reviewed." The board said they further reviewed the reporting after the complaints
"The separate reviews converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes," the board added.
In July, Bret Stephens wrote in the New York Times that the Russian collusion narrative was a hoax. The Washington Post has changed or retracted elements of its reporting on the Russian collusion story since its initial publication.
According to Trump's team, "At the time of publication, nearly every branch and agency of the federal government had examined this issue and reached the same conclusion: there was no conspiracy or cooperation between President Trump or the Trump Campaign and Russia."
"The Pulitzer Statement was knowingly published by Defendants to create a false implication in the mind of the reader that 'the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration' was connected with Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Defendants did so with actual malice and the intention to harm President Trump and his reputation," the lawsuit read.
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